PGA Tour Live, a brand new over the top pro golf subscription service, starts tomorrow with early opening rounds of the Quicken Loans National.
That’s interesting to some golfers, because golf viewers never get to see the opening morning rounds if they’re played on Thursdays and Fridays. In a world where almost every pro sport is done to death, here is something that has been remarkably missing from the list of possible televised diversions.
Now, that little piece is online, and at $4.99 a month, PGA Tour Live can let golf fans watch where they choose. They’ll get seven more tournaments through the rest of the season, and then later on, 30 events per year. You can get the new OTT for free for the first week, and watch on an iPhone, iPad and desktops. By the way, for $4.99, you get a few commercials thrown in, absolutely free!
I don’t know why I think so but this isn't a very big first splash. The big sales pitch is that I can see the opening morning rounds of a golf tournament at the Quicken Loans National? Big deal. The immediate excitement might be this: Friday at 8:10 in the morning, Tiger Woods tees off, and these days, you indeed do have to get up early in the morning to see him on a golf course.
Some would-be viewer comments I read online see PGA Tour Live as the beginning of the end, a way for the golf business to increasingly take more and more events online. I wouldn’t bet on that.
Most sports league Websites just keep injecting a steady drip of the sport to keep a fan going to the next big fix, usually on the weekends.
An exception, I suppose, might be Major League Baseball, which feeds its fans a steady mega-dose, and whose online arm, MLB Advanced Media LP is the acknowledged leader in the sports OTT racket and has been streaming games since the beginning of the century, when video streaming was definitely not popular.
It’s done it for so long and so well it now handles much of the streaming distribution and encoding for lots of sports, news and entertainment clients, and for PGA Tour. It’s a bit ironic that a cutting edge video pioneer is operated by the 30 owners of major league teams who are not a cutting edge crew, by and large.
PGA Tour is behind tournaments broadcast to 1 billion households in 226 nations, so evidently, there’s a lot of growth possible. It will be available now in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia and the United Kingdom, with more to come, and with a lot of events to choose from and a pretty affluent base of fans, it all seems very possible.
In a way it’s a perfect sport for mobile viewing. Mobile streamers usually turn down the sound; in golf, the announcers whisper to start with. Keep it that way.